Short reviews of: Alasdair Roberts & Robin Robertson – Hirta Songs (2013, Stone Tape); Immortal Bird – Akrasia (2014, Self-released); Kentin Jivek & Miro Snejdr – Voir Dire (2014, Self-released); Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestite (2014, Artemisia). [...read more...]
This here seal of the devil is one of those albums that I enjoy because one track grips me in particular, and that is the utterly majestic opener “Born from the Abyss”. It is a velvety layer cake of misty chants and deep, warm synths that perfectly recalls the heyday of Scandinavian dark ambient, roughly fifteen years ago. Certainly not out of place on a label like Cyclic Law, that’s for sure. The rest of this album, the work of St. Petersburg resident Alina Antonova, is nothing to scoff at either, but it is definitely a mood piece, a nostalgic amalgam of ethereal, darkwave, ritual, and ambient influences that epitomises goth atmosphere to me personally. It’s a fairly consistent album, but the best is at the start. Still, Sigillum Diaboli will be required fare for some of you, a dark work somewhere between raison d’être, Coph Nia, Arcana, and more recently, Rose Croix. [...read more...]
Black Light – Black Light [label]
Wisconsin-based, like their label Brave Mysteries, Black Light are one of the newer travellers on the neofolk path. Inspired by the European styles that went before, but with a touch of American outstretchedness to the sound. There’s the usual combination of a guitar base and male and female voices, backed with a selection of percussion and auxiliary melodic instruments like glockenspiel.
The tracks are pretty traditional, loyal more to the neofolk lineage than anything folky beyond that, and the sound is very lo-fi. I’d be inclined to [...read more...]
Almeeva – EP#2 [discogs]
Another cool little tape from BLWBCK records in France, this second EP by Almeeva (Gregory Hoepffner) holds a little over twenty minutes of excellent road music, halfway between dance and rock. Reminiscent of bands like Maserati, these tracks unavoidably make you feel like you’re speeding along a boulevard. A dry electronic beat, bass, and delayed snatches of guitar melody construct that atmosphere meticulously.
All of the tracks are short and sweet, not too heavy on the ears, although at some points, especially in the excellent “Flares”, Hoepffner dares to dive into some [...read more...]
Aspectee – Jour Cinq [discogs]
Aspectee’s Jour Cinq is a dark ambient album by the book, with well-constructed moods and gently drifting melodies. The ten tracks on here are all around 5-6 minutes in length and flow along rather evenly, with not all that much true excitement, but quite a few good melodies to be found. A track like “Illicit” tones it down a bit, focusing on more minimal tones, whereas “Roter Wald” invests more in a gripping synth melody, so there is some variation to be found as well.
This album doesn’t [...read more...]
Les Voyages de l'Âme
Alcest – Les Voyages de l’Âme [discogs]
After a re-release of the excellent EP Le Secret and as previous full-length that has grown on me despite initial misgivings, I expected rather a lot from the new Alcest album. Certainly more of that magical dreamy mix of shoegaze fuzz and extreme metal influences. With that in mind, I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed. Most tracks on Les Voyages are what we at this point call by the book for Alcest, meticulously put together, but without any truly surprising or riveting riffs or [...read more...]
In the Event of My Disappearance
Agitated Radio Pilot – In the Event of My Disappearance [discogs]
Alongside our own double release, In the Event of My Disappearance, released on China’s Midnight Productions, is one of the final ARP releases. And a fine one it is! Dave Colohan focuses mostly on piano-driven songs here, which is a new route compared to earlier albums. The songs are sparse, calm, and feature subtle additions of other instruments and vocals by guest artists like Michael Tanner and Yasmin Chaudhry.
All of the tracks breathe that calm beauty that characterises much [...read more...]
Akhet – Akhet [discogs]
There are rare impromptu recording sessions where everything just comes together. Akhet is a result of one of those, an incedental collaboration by Paul van den Berg, Marc Verhaeghen, and Dirk Serries. The four long tracks on this LP released by Tonefloat clock to almost an hour, filled with quirky electronics, soft drones, and frantic guitar work. Throughout these improvised tracks, there is a mysterious and at times psychedelic atmosphere vaguely connected to the Egyptian of the name of this project.
As has been noticed my man listeners and reviewers, [...read more...]
Alasdair Roberts & Friends – Joy to the Person of My Love [discogs]
Joy to the Person of My Love
This Rif Mountain 7″ contains a duo of interpretations of 17th century songs. Scottish songster Roberts has made settings of these tunes for voice, acoustic guitar, flute, and whistle, which form a nice bridge between the sounds of the renaissance and of modern folk stylings.
I’m particularly fond of the B-side “False Astronomy”, which has a typical melody which reminds me a bit of older Christmas carols. Probably not that strange if I am [...read more...]
Café de l’Enfer – Marchant à quatre pattes au-devant de la rédemption [discogs]
Marchant à quatre pattes au-devant de la rédemption
This debut full-length by Café de l’Enfer on Steinklang is a typical piece of martial/neoclassical as we’ve come to know it for over a decade. The album seeks to confront the listener with the decadence of our age and ages past, drawing copiously from fin de siècle and interbellum imagery in the visual – mostly vintage pornography on the inside of the digipak – textual, and aural aspects of the release.
The music [...read more...]